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Auto Show:  2011 St Louis Auto Show

Green Cars Take Center Stage in the Heartland - St. Louis Auto Show

February 1, 2011

The St. Louis Auto Show is a microcosm of most car shows. In a down economy fewer people want to attend, and automakers have less money to spend because fewer people are buying new cars. And until the economy demonstrates a significant rebound, it’s a scenario that will be repeated throughout the show season.

To that end, auto show organizers with extra space – virtually all of them – are looking for new and relevant ways of using it. For the St. Louis Auto Dealers Association, the solution was EcoCity, a wide-ranging assemblage of environmentally oriented exhibits and demonstrations.

The Gateway Electric Vehicle Club was part of it, with both a booth and several demonstration vehicles. Ron Erb, the club’s vice president, was also on display, and very keen on the interest shown in his exhibit and club. “The difference,” Ron noted, “is that these folks are interested in cars, period.” That, he went on to explain, differs from a lot of eco/environmental venues, where the car is approached as the problem – and not part of the solution. The club’s demonstration vehicles were diverse, and included handcrafted alterations of both a Beetle and MGB GT.

Making the pitch a tad more aggressively was Larry Kinder, a representative of LilyPad EV, a maker of electric vehicle charging stations. Range anxiety has apparently become a hot topic at today’s dinner table, and Mr. Kindle is ready with a well-organized argument for a chicken in every pot (our thanks to Mr. Hoover) and a charging station in every garage. His cogent argument can be summed up in four bullets: Good for business, the environment, the consumer and community. After digesting the pitch, we were prepared to carry a charger on to our return flight – if only the TSA would approve large electrical devices as carry-on.

The up-and-running Tesla two-seater was drawing an appropriate amount of interest, as was Chevy’s Volt, making slow laps around EcoCity’s improvised track. Electric powered scooters were on display, and the Missouri Sewer District was giving away shopping bags while attempting to underscore the environmental impact of cars on community water supplies. We took a bag, and hope to buy their argument.

To be sure, the EcoCity concept is still relatively new. When asking a prosperous looking couple, John and Robyn, for their reaction, it was “we thought we were at a home show. We’re just looking for the Mercedes exhibit!”

author photoDAVID BOLDT began his automotive career in BMW and Saab showrooms in the 1980s, and he moved to automotive journalism in 1993. David has written for a variety of regional and national publications, and prior to joining AutoTrader, he managed media relations for a Japanese OEM.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Green Cars Take Center Stage in the Heartland - St. Louis Auto Show - Autotrader